Wednesday, May 11, 2016

500 facts: More from the '70s

1978 marked Big Al’s third 500 win

Posted By on Wed, May 11, 2016 at 9:02 AM

click to enlarge The ninth row of the '77 500, with Janet Guthrie's #27 car in the middle. Guthrie became the first woman to qualify for the race, joined in that part of the grid by Steve Krisiloff (#92) and Cliff Hucul (#29). - COURTESY OF THE MAGNABOSCO FAMILY
  • Courtesy of the Magnabosco family
  • The ninth row of the '77 500, with Janet Guthrie's #27 car in the middle. Guthrie became the first woman to qualify for the race, joined in that part of the grid by Steve Krisiloff (#92) and Cliff Hucul (#29).

Later this month, NUVO will present 500 facts about the Indy 500. Between now and then, we'll be sharing five facts per day from our upcoming story. Yesterday we received a batch of photos from our friends the Magnabosco family of Speedway, all from 1977 on. How 'bout some more nuggets from the '70s?

339. Speedway owner Tony Hulman passed away in 1977. Mari’s dad passed away at age 76, but not before seeing A.J. Foyt win four Indy 500s.

340. 1978 saw the first all 200 mph front row.
Rick Mears, Danny Ongais and Tom Sneva (on the pole) all qualified at over the double-century mark.

341. 1978 marked Big Al’s third 500 win. Unser edged Tom Sneva that year.

342. Also in 1978, Dan Gurney penned a “white paper” that outlined the sanctioning body that would become CART. Gurney, arguing that USAC was out of touch with the teams racing under there governance, wrote the following prophetic graph nearly two decades before the IndyCar/Champ Car split:

It appears that a “show down” with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is or should be the first target. They are the ones who can afford it. We should re-negotiate the TV contract (our rights — not theirs) and we should double the purse. Other tracks should be negotiated with on the basis of what is a reasonable amount of revenue to come from all sources such as TV, gate receipts, advertising sponsors, etc. The entire picture should be shared from the standpoint of cooperation rather than killing each other.

343. A number of owners wanted a look at USAC’s books, too. Pat Patrick is quoted in The Official History of the Indianapolis 500 that teams were “showing up with multimillion dollar operations racing for $30,000 purses” at markets outside Indy. USAC refused. 

click to enlarge Al Unser takes a victory lap after winning the 1978 Indy 500. - COURTESY OF THE MAGNABOSCO FAMILY
  • Courtesy of the Magnabosco family
  • Al Unser takes a victory lap after winning the 1978 Indy 500.

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Ed Wenck

Ed Wenck

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Ed Wenck has been writing for NUVO (as well as several other Indiana publications) for nearly 20 years while moonlighting as a radio host. He became Managing Editor of NUVO in 2013. He's authored four books and also reports for WISH-TV's Boomer TV program.
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